As a social worker at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, I see many patients who travel from out of the state and the country in order to receive medical care. Their cancer treatment can sometimes be scheduled every day for six weeks or more. This can add a lot of stress to an already difficult situation.
It can be daunting to arrange all the transportation and lodging logistics, especially for an extended period of time. Patients and caregivers are also faced with being away from the comforts of their own home and support of loved ones who may live close by. Here are a few tips to consider if you have to travel for treatment:
- Contact your medical insurance company regarding travel benefits. Some insurers will provide transportation and lodging benefits in the form of reimbursements if patients must receive treatment a great distance from their home.
- Discuss hardships with your medical team. Make sure that your doctor and nurse navigator are aware of any financial hardship you are going through in order to get treatment. Some patients may be able to receive their therapy closer to home at a local infusion or radiation center. They can still continue to be followed by their preferred physician who is out of town.
- Reach out to loved ones for support. Many family members and friends may be unsure of how to help when a patient is undergoing treatment, however, they are longing to be able to provide some sort of assistance. Don’t be reluctant to request help with transportation or other needs.
- Consider holding a community fundraiser. Many families underestimate the cost of medical care and all that comes with it. Reality can hit when they are fully involved in the treatment process. Fundraisers are a great way to reach out to community members and request assistance. This assistance can then be used to help cover the extra expenses of transportation to a treatment facility or lodging away from home.
- Reach out to a social worker at the clinic where you or your family member receives treatment. There may be additional resources or discounts through community agencies that offer further support when a patient or family must travel
Finally, if you have to stay at a hotel during medical treatment, be sure to bring along some special items that will remind you of home. Photos, a cozy blanket and a favorite sweatshirt can help make home feel a whole lot closer. Click to learn more about available resources at Winship for our patients and families.
About Joy McCall, LCSW
Joy McCall is a Winship social worker with bone marrow transplant, hematology and gynecologic teams and their patients. She started her professional career at Winship as an intern, working with breast, gynecologic, brain and melanoma cancer patients. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Kennesaw State University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Georgia. As part of her education she completed an internship with the Marcus Institute working on the pediatric feeding unit, and an internship counseling individuals and couples at Families First, supporting families and children facing challenges to build strong family bonds and stability for their future. She had previously worked with individuals with developmental disabilities for over 4 years, providing support to families and caregivers.